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Archive > Group Read -> July 2018 -> Nomination thread (A book about, or set in, Berlin won by The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood)

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message 1: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 10339 comments Mod
Every month we will discuss a book on a specific era or a theme. This book will be the winner of a group poll.

Our next theme is Berlin and we will be reading and discussing the winning book in July 2018

If you feel inspired, please nominate a book about, or set in, Berlin that you would like to read and discuss.

It can be either fiction or non-fiction.

Please supply the title, author, a brief synopsis, and anything else you'd like to mention about the book, and why you think it might make a good book to discuss.

If your nomination wins then please be willing to fully participate in the subsequent discussion.

Happy nominating.




message 2: by Val (new)

Val | 1709 comments Is this Berlin at any time in the twentieth century?


message 3: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 27, 2018 02:14AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 10339 comments Mod
Yes it is Val - Berlin at any time in the twentieth century


Here's some inspiration...

Ten Great Books About Berlin.....
http://www.slowtravelberlin.com/city-...

10 of the best books set in Berlin.....
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/20...

10 Books that Will Make You Fall in Love with Berlin.....
https://theculturetrip.com/europe/ger...


message 4: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 10339 comments Mod
None of those lists contain one of my personal favourites (and this is not a nomination (yet))...


The Lost Europeans by Emanuel Litvinoff




message 5: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 27, 2018 05:08AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 10339 comments Mod
Must confess I am tempted to nominate either....


Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton

The classic and gripping spy novel of Cold War Berlin, with MI5's Harry Palmer played by Michael Caine in the film.

"There was plenty of activity at Checkpoint Charlie. Photoflashes sliced instants from eternity. The pavement shone with water and detergent under the pressmen's feet. Way down towards Hallesches Tor a US military ambulance flasher sped towards the emergency ward and was all set to change direction to the morgue."

OR

The Innocent by Ian McEwan

After England, the cold war Berlin of 1955 is like no place Leonard Markham has ever experienced: surreal, complex and dangerous.

"Almost too soon he was on Adalbertstrasse … There were apartment blocks with facades drilled by small arms fire, especially round the doors and windows. Every second or third building had a gutted interior, and was without its roof. Whole structures had collapsed and the rubble lay where it had fallen."

There are so many possibilities

I think I'll hold off and see what others go for.

So that means if you were considering these books then please do go ahead - I am not laying claim to them. Just thinking out loud.





message 6: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 5660 comments Mod
What a great theme! Also thinking aloud... The Innocent sounds good. There are a lot of crime/thriller series set in Berlin (Philip Kerr, Jane Thynne, Volker Kutscher, David Downing, Rebecca Cantrell) but I'm thinking of a history nomination, either Hannah's Dress: Berlin 1904 - 2014 or The House by the Lake: A Story of Germany - both of which explore the twentieth century history of Berlin via a single street or house.

I've read the former but not the latter - will have a think and come back with a proper nomination.


message 7: by Val (last edited Apr 27, 2018 09:12AM) (new)

Val | 1709 comments Several of the books I was thinking of nominating are on those lists.

I bought the new translation of the German classic Berlin Alexanderplatz recently, but it is fairly long (and modernist), so perhaps it would be better as a buddy read.


message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10587 comments Mod
There are SO many possibles. I could literally nominate dozens of books. I think I will go for non fiction, even though they tend not to be so popular in the vote...

Berlin at War: Life and Death in Hitler's Capital, 1939-45 Berlin at War Life and Death in Hitler's Capital, 1939-45 by Roger Moorhouse

Berlin was the nerve-centre of Hitler's Germany - the backdrop for the most lavish ceremonies, it was also the venue for Albert Speer's plans to forge a new 'world metropolis' and the scene of the final climactic bid to defeat Nazism. Yet while our understanding of the Holocaust is well developed, we know little about everyday life in Nazi Germany.

In this vivid and important study Roger Moorhouse portrays the German experience of the Second World War, not through an examination of grand politics, but from the viewpoint of the capital's streets and homes.He gives a flavour of life in the capital, raises issues of consent and dissent, morality and authority and, above all, charts the violent humbling of a once-proud metropolis.

Shortlisted for the Hessell-Tiltman History Prize.


message 9: by Val (last edited Apr 27, 2018 02:08PM) (new)

Val | 1709 comments Look Who's Back, a satirical novel by Timur Vermes, imagines a resurrected Hitler as a comic figure unable to adapt to the modern world. Is it too soon to make jokes about Nazism?
This is my nomination. I think we could have an interesting discussion.


message 10: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 10339 comments Mod
Val wrote: "Look Who's Back, a satirical novel by Timur Vermes....."


I read that a couple of years ago - v amusing

Great nomination Val



NOMINATIONS SO FAR:

VAL: Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes
SUSAN: Berlin at War: Life and Death in Hitler's Capital, 1939-45 by Roger Moorhouse


message 11: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 27, 2018 02:15PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 10339 comments Mod
OK, I've decided that I will go with Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton...



The classic and gripping spy novel of Cold War Berlin, with MI5's Harry Palmer played by Michael Caine in the film.

FUNERAL IN BERLIN is a spellbinding tale of espionage and its counter in which double and triple crosses are common. Berlin with its infamous wall symbolized the Cold War as did no other place. It was like theatre, but is war for real.

"Len Deighton has always been fascinated with the Cold War in a way that could be called scholarly...one always feels that the intricacies of espionage and of the Soviet Union's spy apparatus rest on serious research. And he writes with effortless mastery." (The Wall Street Journal)

"A most impressive book, a chronicle of our times, in which the tension, more like a chronic ache than a stab of pain, never lets go." (The London Evening Standard)


"There was plenty of activity at Checkpoint Charlie. Photoflashes sliced instants from eternity. The pavement shone with water and detergent under the pressmen's feet. Way down towards Hallesches Tor a US military ambulance flasher sped towards the emergency ward and was all set to change direction to the morgue."




Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton

NOMINATIONS SO FAR:

NIGEYB: Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton
VAL: Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes
SUSAN: Berlin at War: Life and Death in Hitler's Capital, 1939-45 by Roger Moorhouse


message 12: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1288 comments How about Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s by Otto Friedrich. Although I am not sure how available is it. I think I got it from an online used book store.

I haven't read it yet - not too sure where it is, but it is somewhere in the house.


message 13: by Lady Clementina (last edited Apr 27, 2018 09:10PM) (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 423 comments The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood

I read this with another group last year and to my surprise really enjoyed it very much.


message 14: by Susan (last edited Apr 27, 2018 10:10PM) (new)

Susan | 10587 comments Mod
Before the Deluge is not on kindle, Jan, but there are copies available.

I still haven't read Christopher Isherwood, Lady C and keep meaning to.

Val, I also have your nomination on my TBR list, so am tempted by that too.


message 15: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 423 comments Do read him sometime Susan-
Here's my review in case you're interested
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10587 comments Mod
This might be the month when I read him, LC. Some good suggestions so far, as always :)


message 18: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 5660 comments Mod
I'll nominate The House by the Lake: A Story of Germany, a microhistory of Germany in the twentieth century told via the eponymous house on a lake on the outskirts of Berlin.

Harding traces 'the five families who had lived there – a wealthy landowner, a prosperous Jewish family, a renowned composer, a widower and her children, a Stasi informant. All had made the house their home, and all – bar one – had been forced out. The house had been the site of domestic bliss and of contentment, but also of terrible grief and tragedy. It had weathered storms, fires and abandonment, witnessed violence, betrayals and murders, had withstood the trauma of a world war, and the dividing of a nation.'

The book was nominated for a Costa award, has an average of just over 4 stars on here from over 1000 ratings, and was featured on Radio 4.

It appeals to me as it covers a sweep of Berlin history from the Nazi period to the Cold War and their modern legacies. I think it would be interesting, too, to discuss this contemporary mode of writing history via a personal/family viewpoint and material objects, here a house.


message 20: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10587 comments Mod
What great choices - I want to read all of them! Good suggestion, RC.


message 21: by Val (new)

Val | 1709 comments Roman Clodia wrote: "It appeals to me as it covers a sweep of Berlin history from the Nazi period to the Cold War and their modern legacies. I think it would be interesting, too, to discuss this contemporary mode of writing history via a personal/family viewpoint and material objects, here a house."
It does look like an interesting way of looking at the history, broader than a family memoir, yet fixed in one place, so it is not too broad.


message 22: by Lynaia (new)

Lynaia | 468 comments Val wrote: "Look Who's Back, a satirical novel by Timur Vermes, imagines a resurrected Hitler as a comic figure unable to adapt to the modern world. Is it too soon to make joke..."

This was also made into a movie which is currently on Netflix. I haven't watched it yet so I can't tell you how good it is but thought it might interest some.


message 24: by Nigeyb (last edited May 01, 2018 01:35PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 10339 comments Mod
Absolutely last call for nominations. Polls going up v soon, so this is your last chance to slip in your Berlin-themed nomination......



ROMAN CLODIA: The House by the Lake: A Story of Germany by Thomas Harding
LADY CLEMENTINA: The Berlin Stories: The Last of Mr Norris/Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
JAN: Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s by Otto Friedrich
NIGEYB: Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton
VAL: Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes
SUSAN: Berlin at War: Life and Death in Hitler's Capital, 1939-45 by Roger Moorhouse




message 27: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10587 comments Mod
I have never read Christopher Isherwood for some reason, so I will be happy to try him.

I will probably read a couple of the other choices too - I really like the look of The House by the Lake and Look Who's Back. Some great suggestions generally.


message 28: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 10339 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I have never read Christopher Isherwood for some reason, so I will be happy to try him."


Oooh - you're in for a treat Susan.

I've read both the Isherwood books that comprise 'The Berlin Stories: The Last of Mr Norris/Goodbye to Berlin' - both are wonderful in my view.

'The Last of Mr. Norris' is also (better?) known as 'Mr Norris Changes Trains'

'Mr Norris Changes Trains' was published in 1933 and (along with 'Goodbye to Berlin') is drawn from Isherwood's experiences as an expatriate living in Berlin during the early 1930s.

The character of Arthur Norris was based on a real life character, who Christopher Isherwood befriended in Berlin, called Gerald Hamilton. He pops up all over the place. Susan, you may remember Gerald Hamilton's appearance in the stunning 'Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms: The Spyhunter, the Fashion Designer & the Man From Moscow' by Paul Willetts.

I last read 'Mr Norris Changes Trains' in 2016 and it was the first book I'd read by Christopher Isherwood since my teens, back in the 1970s, and I'm delighted to report that Christopher Isherwood was every bit as good as I had remembered.

I've been meaning to read 'The Man Who Was Norris: The Life of Gerald Hamilton' by Tom Cullen for some time. It's a book, as the title suggests, devoted to The Man Who Was Norris.

Straight after finishing 'Mr Norris Changes Trains' I read 'Christopher and His Kind' - an autobiographical account of Christopher Isherwood's life-from 1929, when he left England to spend a week in Berlin and decided to stay there indefinitely, to 1939, when he arrived in America. Another goodie.




message 29: by Val (last edited May 05, 2018 02:15AM) (new)


message 30: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 10339 comments Mod
I’ll be recycling a lot of my BYT posts. Not for the first time. Now my secret’s out 😀


message 31: by Val (last edited May 05, 2018 06:00AM) (new)

Val | 1709 comments You will have to think of something different to say about them now Nigey, assuming it wins, which looks likely.

Not all members here were in the BYT group and they were good discussions, so I felt people might be interested to read them.


message 32: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4671 comments Mod
I'm looking forward to these, assuming it does win. Anyone who doesn't want to read both books can always just read one and join in anyway.


message 33: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1288 comments I read and (I think) enjoyed the Last of Mr. Norris but believe I am still reading (and, I hope, enjoying) Goodbye to Berlin.


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